September 17, 2021

Who are South Africa’s biggest club: Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates or Mamelodi Sundowns?

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Known as the Premier Soccer League’s Big Three, Kaizer Chiefs, Mamelodi Sundowns, and Orlando Pirates are the biggest clubs in South Africa.

However, the debate as to which is the biggest club in the land has raged on and on for many years and will no doubt always continue.

Goal compares the three clubs in terms of success, average stadium attendance, infrastructure, and fanbase: 

Infrastructure 

The Chiefs Village in Naturena, Johannesburg is a world-class facility that features complex playing fields, offices, dressing rooms and a retail store.

The infrastructure is widely considered to be the best in the country and they also have a strength training facility which has gym equipment, a swimming pool, saunas, ice baths, and showers.

While Sundowns’ headquarters are in Chloorkop, Kempton Park and their top-class facilities include offices, training fields, a recovery pool, dressing rooms and jacuzzis. 

Unlike Chiefs and Sundowns, Pirates do not own their headquarters and they are currently renting offices in Houghton, Johannesburg having previously leased offices in Parktown, Johannesburg.   

The Buccaneers are currently using the Rand Stadium in Rosettenville, Johannesburg which is owned by the City of Johannesburg as their training ground. 

It is important to note that none of the current  16 PSL clubs own stadiums. 

Fanbase

Chiefs have long been known as the most popular football club in the country and this is evident when looking at their following on the biggest social media platforms in the world.

With over 3,5 million likes on Facebook, 2,2 million, followers on Twitter, and 690,000 followers on Instagram, Amakhosi boast of a fanbase that’s over six million followers on social media.

Their Soweto rivals, Pirates are second with over 2,3 million likes on Facebook, 1,7 million followers on Twitter, and 479,000 on Instagram and they are current on over 4,5 million followers. 

While Sundowns have just over 2 million followers on social media – over one million likes on Facebook, 867,000 million followers on Twitter, and 315,000 on Instagram.

Average stadium attendance 

The country’s biggest stadium, FNB Stadium is unsurprisingly home to the most popular club in the land, Chiefs.

With a capacity of 94,736, the iconic venue is not only the biggest in South Africa but on the continent.

According to Transfermarkt, the average attendance at Amakhosi’s home matches was 22,015 during the 2019/20 season, before fans were barred from stadiums due to Covid-19.

The FNB Stadium is usually full to capacity during the Soweto Derby match featuring Chiefs and their main rivals, Pirates.

Pirates’ home ground is the Orlando Stadium which has a capacity of 40,000 and they draw an average home attendance of 14,873. 

While Sundowns draw an average home attendance of 9,000 at their home venue, Loftus Versfeld Stadium, which has a 51,762 capacity.

Success

Chiefs remain the most decorated club in the country despite having won their last major trophy in 2015.

The Glamour Boys have won the most major trophies – 55 –  including a record 13 league cups (Telkom Knockout), a record 15 South African FA Cups (Nedbank Cup), and a record 13 Top 8 (MTN8) titles, 13 national league titles (PSL) and Caf African Cup Winners’ Cup. 

On the other hand, Pirates have the second most trophies with 30 titles having clinched nine national league titles, eight South African FA Cups, eight Top 8 titles, league cup, Caf Champions League, and Caf Super Cup.

Sundowns are the third most decorated club in the land with 28 trophies including a record 14 national league titles, five South African FA Cups, four league cups, three Top 8 titles, Caf Champions League, and Caf Super Cup.

Verdict 

Chiefs are undoubtedly the biggest club in South Africa in terms of average stadium attendance, success, popularity, and infrastructure.